- House and Senate Pass Fiscal Year 2013–2014 Budget
- MCC Continues Push for Medicaid Reform
- MCC Applauds House Passage of Multi-Bill Adoption Package
While the Michigan Legislature has been developing its budget for the 2013–2014 Fiscal Year over the past several months, Michigan Catholic Conference has monitored and advocated for programs within the budget that protect children and families and respect the dignity of the poor and vulnerable. This week lawmakers finalized next year’s state budget, which will now be sent to the governor for his consideration. Below is a summary of the funding granted to MCC-supported programs.
- Tuition Grant Program: maintains $31.7 million in funding for students who demonstrate financial need to attend one of Michigan’s twenty-one independent and private institutions of higher education.
- Tuition Incentive Program: increases tuition assistance funding for eligible students attending college or degree programs by $3.2 million (from $43.8 million to $47.0 million).
- Dual Enrollment: includes $1 million of funding for non-public students to take college courses while still in high school.
- Stem Cell Reporting Requirements: includes language requiring institutions of higher education that destroy human embryos for research purposes to document their activities to the Department of Community Health.
- Per Diem Rates for Private Foster Care Agencies: adds $5.1 million in funding for private foster care agencies, such as Catholic Charities agencies that provide child placement services, by $3 per child, per day, which would bring the per diem rate up to $40 from $37. This extra funding will help agencies continue to place Michigan’s most vulnerable children in loving homes.
- Low-Income Energy Assistance: provides $60 million to help low-income individuals receive energy assistance and work on a path to energy self-sufficiency.
- Clothing Allowance: sets aside $2.9 million to restore money for this program in 2014, which has provided funding to low-income families to help buy clothing for their children, impacting about 21,000 children a year. Massive budget cuts at the federal level, also known as the “sequestration,” have zeroed out clothing allowance funding for this year.
- Real Alternatives: provides $700,000 in funding to promote childbirth and alternatives to abortion by providing free counseling and parenting support services for new mothers.
Michigan Catholic Conference was disappointed to see funding left out of the Department of Community Health budget for the expansion of Medicaid, which would have extended health care access to approximately 450,000 adults who are currently uninsured in this state. The Legislature is continuing the conversation on Medicaid reform through the summer, holding hearings in the House on House Bill 4714. This bill would allow the state to receive federal dollars for Medicaid expansion, require participants to contribute up to 5% of their annual salary to offset premium costs, and include smoking cessation and weight loss requirements for participants. Michigan Catholic Conference remains opposed to a provision within the bill that would limit Medicaid coverage to 48 months but continues to work with legislators on reform that respects the dignity of the working poor and increases access to health care.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed an important package of bills [Link no longer available —Ed.] to simplify the adoption process in this state and help Michigan’s children find loving homes. MCC Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy released the following statement after the vote:
“Simplifying and streamlining the adoption process in Michigan is a win-win policy for all parties involved, especially the birth mother and her child. By shortening both the consent duration and the supervisory requirements, this legislation will help to develop a greater sense of permanency. The putative father component of the package is also helpful to ensure the child’s father’s rights are respected through the process. Michigan Catholic Conference appreciates the efforts of the bill sponsors and the House majority for moving this legislation through the chamber.”
The bills will now be sent to the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors, and Human Services for further consideration. Michigan Catholic Conference will keep members apprised of additional updates.
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